Nats’ Strasburg makes much-anticipated spring debut look routine

VIERA, Fla. — Stephen Strasburg made that look easy. Facing major league hitters for the first time, the ballyhooed righthander pitched two scoreless innings against the Tigers with little trouble and no 100-mph fastballs.

The phenom had a pretty good idea where his pitches were going Tuesday.
The phenom had a pretty good idea where his pitches were going Tuesday.

Aside from the overflowing photograph wells and overcrowded press box, this was not unlike a typical Tuesday afternoon spring-training game. Sun Coast Stadium was a little more than half-full, the temperature was in the mid-60s, and any buzz in the park likely was felt only by those enjoying their adult beverages.

Still, he was glad to have his first outing out of the way, even if it was just spring training.

"Absolutely," he said. "There was a lot of anticipation going on. It’s in the books, and now I can worry about my next outing and what I can do to prepare for that."

Strasburg allowed a couple of two-out singles to Tigers backups in the second inning and fell behind the next hitter, Brent Dlugach, 3-0. Then the 21-year-old with the $15.1 million contract got serious. The next three pitches were called strikes — the last two nasty changeups — and Strasburg’s debut was done.

Two innings, two hits, two strikeouts, zero walks. His performance was over in less than half an hour.

According to stadium scoreboard readings, Strasburg’s first pitch was clocked at 97 mph, and he touched 98 a couple of times but didn’t reach triple digits on this day. He threw 15 strikes among his 27 pitches.

His most effective pitch was a 98-mph high fastball that struck out slugger Miguel Cabrera. "He threw me two breaking balls in a row, so I was waiting for the fastball, but when you’re out of balance, it’s tough to hit," Cabrera said. "What you read about him is true. He’s real. You don’t see that kind of pitcher every year."

Starting for the Tigers was Rick Porcello, who actually is younger than Strasburg but already has pitched a full year in the majors. Porcello won 14 games with a 3.96 ERA as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009. Any advice for a fellow phenom?

"It looks like he has a pretty good idea right now," Porcello said.

Good enough to make his debut look routine.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

VIERA, Fla. — Stephen Strasburg made that look easy. Facing major league hitters for the first time, the ballyhooed righthander pitched two scoreless innings against the Tigers with little trouble and no 100-mph fastballs.

The phenom had a pretty good idea where his pitches were going Tuesday.
The phenom had a pretty good idea where his pitches were going Tuesday.

Aside from the overflowing photograph wells and overcrowded press box, this was not unlike a typical Tuesday afternoon spring-training game. Sun Coast Stadium was a little more than half-full, the temperature was in the mid-60s, and any buzz in the park likely was felt only by those enjoying their adult beverages.

Still, he was glad to have his first outing out of the way, even if it was just spring training.

"Absolutely," he said. "There was a lot of anticipation going on. It’s in the books, and now I can worry about my next outing and what I can do to prepare for that."

Strasburg allowed a couple of two-out singles to Tigers backups in the second inning and fell behind the next hitter, Brent Dlugach, 3-0. Then the 21-year-old with the $15.1 million contract got serious. The next three pitches were called strikes — the last two nasty changeups — and Strasburg’s debut was done.

Two innings, two hits, two strikeouts, zero walks. His performance was over in less than half an hour.

According to stadium scoreboard readings, Strasburg’s first pitch was clocked at 97 mph, and he touched 98 a couple of times but didn’t reach triple digits on this day. He threw 15 strikes among his 27 pitches.

His most effective pitch was a 98-mph high fastball that struck out slugger Miguel Cabrera. "He threw me two breaking balls in a row, so I was waiting for the fastball, but when you’re out of balance, it’s tough to hit," Cabrera said. "What you read about him is true. He’s real. You don’t see that kind of pitcher every year."

Starting for the Tigers was Rick Porcello, who actually is younger than Strasburg but already has pitched a full year in the majors. Porcello won 14 games with a 3.96 ERA as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009. Any advice for a fellow phenom?

"It looks like he has a pretty good idea right now," Porcello said.

Good enough to make his debut look routine.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

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